TeachingBooks Virtual Book Tour

The TeachingBooks Virtual Book Tour is your opportunity to learn from and build personal connections with extraordinary book creators and their brand-new titles. Included in all Virtual Book Tour posts are original interviews with authors and illustrators, lesson plans, an activity designed for young people, and much more!

Welcome Kwame Mbalia

Kwame Mbalia on Black Boy Joy: 17 Stories Celebrating Black Boyhood

In this post, we feature author Kwame Mbalia, whose popular titles include the Tristan Strong series. You can hear him speak about his new collection of short stories, Black Boy Joy: 17 Stories Celebrating Black Boyhood, and try his fun “invitation to imagine” activity. You’ll also find other resources to explore. Thanks for joining us, and let us know what you think in the comments below!

Kwame Mbalia and the cover of Black Boy Joy

Black Boy Joy: 17 Stories Celebrating Black Boyhood

  • Edited by Kwame Mbalia
  • Published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House
  • Release date: August 3, 2021

Black boy joy is…
Picking out a fresh first-day-of-school outfit.
Saving the universe in an epic intergalactic race.
Finding your voice—and your rhymes—during tough times.
Flying on your skateboard like nobody’s watching.
And more! From 17 acclaimed Black male and non-binary authors comes a vibrant collection of stories, comics, and poems about the power of joy and the wonders of Black boyhood.

From “The Griot of Grover Street: Part One,” by Kwame Mbalia, the first story in Black Boy Joy: 17 Stories Celebrating Black Boyhood, edited by Kwame Mbalia.

Mr. G. grinned, held out a tiny bottle labeled Gary the Griot’s Splenderifous Story Solution and the bubble wand . . . then brandished the butterfly net like a baseball bat. “Looks like there’s a story of joy, ready to be told.”

Read a longer excerpt from Black Boy Joy: 17 Stories Celebrating Black Boyhood, edited by Kwame Mbalia.

Explore Black Boy Joy: 17 Stories Celebrating Black Boyhood

Listen to Kwame Mbalia talking with TeachingBooks about creating Black Boy Joy: 17 Stories Celebrating Black Boyhood. You can click the player below or experience the recording on TeachingBooks, where you can read along as you listen, and also translate the text to another language.

Invitation to Imagine

TeachingBooks asks each author or illustrator on our Virtual Book Tour to share a writing prompt, a drawing exercise, or just an interesting question to spark curiosity and creativity. Enjoy the following activity contributed by Kwame Mbalia.

Imagination Activity with Kwame Mbalia

Write two pivotal scenes for your protagonist that took place in their past. These would be events that shaped their outlook on life and is the engine that drives the choices they make. If your story is about a boy who is forced to care for dog, a pivotal scene might be an encounter he had with a dog several years ago that scared him. Or it might be an encounter where he loved a dog, but a family member was allergic. The goal is to write a scene that influences the character’s decision making to this day. Have fun with it! 

Finish This Sentence . . . with Kwame Mbalia

As part of our Virtual Book Tour, TeachingBooks asks authors and illustrators to complete short sentence prompts. Enjoy Kwame Mbalia’s response.

“A surprising thing that helps me work is…”

A surprising thing that helps me work is writing a playlist! Creating a playlist of mood setting music (I write to a lot of video game soundtracks) really helps me. The music gets me pumped up to write the scene I’m working on, while the length of the playlist can determine the length of the writing session.

“Where I work is…”

Where I work is . . . anywhere! I write where I have the space and can focus. Sometimes it will be on the screen porch, other times in my office, and sometimes even in the car!

“You may not know that I can…”

You may not know that I can make incredibly difficult shots into the wastebasket or even the basketball hoop as long as no one is watching. Seriously. I’m not making this up. I once bounced a basketball between my legs, off the backboard, then heel-kicked it into the basket. It was incredible; you had to be there.

More Connections to Kwame Mbalia and Black Boy Joy: 17 Stories Celebrating Black Boyhood

Explore all of the titles featured in the TeachingBooks Virtual Book Tour: one link with author interviews, lesson plans, activities, and more!

All text and images are courtesy of Kwame Mbalia and Penguin Random House and may not be used without expressed written consent.

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